Well, I have a new job. I edit obituaries for the local newspaper. For the most part, my job consists of reading about old men and women who have lived long, meaning-filled lives. But every once in a while, I have a day like today. First, a funeral home director sends me the obituary of a two month old infant. The grieving parents have written up some beautiful nonsense about how this baby made everyone want to live a better life. Then, a woman calls me to ask how to submit an obituary for her son.
"I'm sorry," I say, about to cry since I'm still upset over the baby.
"I've already buried two daughters," she says, "And this is so wrong."
"I know," I say, and again, "I'm sorry."
These are the ones that affect me the most, perhaps because they hit so close to home. The thought of losing one of my babies, or my husband (who is probably about the same age as the second woman's son) almost immobilizes me.
I will be honest, death scares me. It scares me badly. The thought that I could possibly be happy again if I lost one of my boys just seems ludicrous to me.
I recently read The Voyage Out by Virginia Wolfe, and she describes a poignant death scene. The fiance sits and listens to Rachel's breathing slow and finally stop. He sits quietly with her for some time, and then, when his friends come and get him, he finally realizes what death means--he will never see Rachel again. All of a sudden, he understands. That's how it's been for me lately. Death is final. And even though eternity scared me (maybe I'll go into that later), finality scares me even more.